Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Small Press Review: Buying A Suit On Essex Street

Review of Ed Galing's " Buying A Suit on Essex Steet" in The Small Press Review Nov-Dec. 2006

Ed Galing, 88 is a historian of New York's Lower East Side in the days of pushcarts and of tenements packed with poor Jews and other immigrants-- Emma Lazarus: " tired and poor...wretched refuse" and Mike Gold's "Jews without money." According to Galing, his family, fit those categories, living on welfare and stifled in a "small iron cage" of an apartment.

Galing writes about his poverty-thwarted childhood in a clear style, short lines, and brief stanzas, aptly set in Arial bold by Dave Roskos, the proprietor of Inquity Press. The cover bears a photo of Galing in fedora and black-double-breasted overcoat about 50 years ago, and the back cover shows old Ed in an open sports shirt. In both photos he is smiling, broadly on the front cover, world-wisely on the back. He's a survivor: at his most bitter he writes: "fuck humanity," at his most hopeful, he says: "god bless."

Today his Essex Street Neighborhood is being gentrified, with large apartment towers rising amid the dwindling number of tenements. The clothier where he bought the suit of the title is long gone, like most of the other small buisnesses that served his family and later drew bargain hunters to the Lower East Side. All that remains are the memories and words of Ed Galing in the many small press venues that have published him.

George Held.

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